The Pink Triangle
In 2020, Pride celebrations across the world were getting canceled and citizens were under strict shelter-in-place orders. As a way of declaring that nothing can cancel our pride, there was only one way of celebrating the Pink Triangle in its 25th year: Illuminate it.
During World War II, in Nazi concentration camps, gays were forced to wear the pink triangle on their breast pockets to identify them as homosexual to set them apart from other prisoners. Triangles of various colors were used to identify each category of undesirable: yellow for Jews, brown of Gypsies, red for political prisoners, green for criminals, black for anti-socials, purple for Jehovah's Witnesses, blue for immigrants, and pink for homosexuals.
The pink triangles were slightly larger than the other colored triangles so that guards could identify them from a distance. It is said that those who wore the pink triangles were singled out by the guards to receive the harshest treatment, and when the guards were finished with them, some of the other inmates would harm them as well. At the end of the war, when the concentration camps were finally liberated, virtually all of the prisoners were released except those who wore the pink triangle. Many of those with a pink triangle on their pocket were put back in prison and their nightmare continued.
Over time, the pink triangle was reclaimed as a symbol of hope and inclusion, and in 1996 Patrick Carney founded The Pink Triangle in San Francisco. Now the symbol represents survival, defiance, courage, strength, and persistence. With Pride celebrations canceled across the world in 2020 due to COVID-19, Patrick, and his usual volunteers that number in the hundreds were unable to gather to lay the pink canvas at Twin Peaks so Illuminate and Ben Davis jumped in to offer a new way of celebrating the Pink Triangle in its 25th year: Illuminate it.
With the Pride parade canceled and crowds unable to gather, we had to envision a way of making the LGBTQ community feel connected while remaining socially distanced. The solution was a pink torch procession, that kicked off in Oakland with Mayor Libby Schaaf and founder of Oakland's LGBTQ Community Center, Joe Hawkins. The torch was then passed among various valuable members of the LGBTQ community, and walked through downtown Oakland, around Lake Merritt, across the Bay Bridge to Treasure Island, and into San Francisco where it made its way from the Ferry Building up Market Street, through the Castro, and finally, up to Twin Peaks, all escorted by the Dykes on Bikes. Once the torch reached Twin Peaks, Patrick, Ben and SF Mayor London Breed were awaiting it to officially light the Pink Triangle for its 25th year in San Francisco.
Illuminate the Pink Triangle garnered international attention and was highly anticipated in the Bay Area. The Global Grand Lighting ceremony was aired live in the Bay Area to show Mayor London Breed, Patrick Carney and Ben Davis light the triangle.
Founder of The Pink Triangle: Patrick Carney
Artist: Ben Davis of Illuminate
Head Boss in Charge: Patricia Suflita Wilson
Get-Shit-Done President: Madeleine Maguire
Thoughtful Volunteers: Whitmire Vo, Ronnie Allman, Garaje Gooch, Vanessa Inn, Gary Virginia, Gregg Cassin, Peter Kane
Torch Designers: LookingUp Arts
© Madeleine Maguire 2023. All rights reserved.